An animosity between Figuration and Abstraction in painting and graphic art seems to have been laid to rest by a younger generation of artists working today. A logical circularity exists ad infinitum: bodies are created from biological processes, combined with objects and other bodies, go through socialized rituals and psychic transformations, become diseased and decay. Realism and representation are as immaterial as the transcendental, cause and effect become interchangeable and simultaneous.
The artists displayed in the exhibition trade in languages both organic and digital, specific and universal, idiosyncratic and mundane. They ignore prior distinctions of material boundaries as much as they oscillate between pre-existing categories of iconographies (such as portraiture, landscape, architectonic, floral, and commemorative). Appearance, finally, seems to be enough to confirm existence and each of our artists wills into being universes highly personal yet rooted in observations.
Rohini Devasher’s artistic practice has long been fascinated with the sciences and the natural world, exploring organic growth and evolution through a technological matrix. Her two large-scale digital prints in the exhibition draw inspiration from biological specimens, astronomical observations, and magnetic resonance imaging. Born in 1978, Rohini Devasher lives and works in New Delhi. She received her MFA in Printmaking from Winchester School of Art in the UK and her BFA from the College of Art in New Delhi. She has exhibited her works in group shows at Green Cardamom and the British Library in London and the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Solo shows of her works have been mounted at Project 88 in Mumbai in 2009 and at Gallery Nature Morte in New Delhi in 2011.
A native New Yorker with roots in India, Chitra Ganesh creates art which straddles cultures, often fixating on iconographies that hide in residual spaces. She crafts contemporary mythologies from strings of ancient narratives, fairy tales, antiquated portraiture and popular culture such as Bollywood cinema and comic books. Included in the exhibition are three large-scale portraits executed in charcoal on paper. Her subjects are Indian actresses from the era of silent films, stars of a European production and innocent bystanders to the foibles of Orientalism. Chitra Ganesh lives and works in Brooklyn, where she was born in 1975. She earned a BA from Brown University in 1986 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2002. Her work has been exhibited in a wide range of international institutions including the Brooklyn Museum (2004), the Asia Society (2006), PS1/MOMA (2008), ZKM in Karlsruhe (2007), MOCA Shanghai (2009), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin (2006), the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (2009), the Saatchi Gallery in London (2010) and the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai (2011), among many others.
Alexis Kersey grew up in both South India and Great Britain. His works explore a range of graphic possibilities in a variety of medias. Trained as a sign-painter in Chennai (formerly Madras), Kersey explores craft techniques in both marquetry inlaid work and as high-relief wall sculptures.
His signature characters (punks, saints, and demons), refined for years as paintings, now glisten and pulse with the added lure of semi-precious materials: mother-of-pearl, rare woods, gilded glass and metals. All together, the works add up to a level of sumptuousness that topples into the grotesque, Kersey’s sardonic wit evident throughout. Alexis Kersey was born in Mysore in 1972. He has held solo exhibitions of his works at the British Library in London, the Apparao Galleries in Chennai, the British Council and Gallery Nature Morte in New Delhi.
Most of Aditya Pande’s works can only be described as oxymorons: elegantly grotesque; digital primitivism; controlled spontaneity; intricately ordered anarchy. The works combine the skills of drawing and printmaking with the surfaces of both photography and painting. Pande’s unique digital, mixed-media collages excite the eye with their explosion of colors, their intricacy of lines and complex compositions. While Pande’s technique is au courant, his subject matter and style speaks to something more primitive. While the look of the works is most immediately referential to the abstract Surrealism of the Spanish master Joan Miró and the hyper- Expressionism of the Danish painter Asger Jorn, there is also something of prehistoric cave art present.
Born in Lucknow in 1976, raised and still living in New Delhi, Aditya Pande studied at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, where he received his degree in Graphic Design in 2001. He has participated in group shows at Nature Morte, New Delhi (2008 and 2010), Nature Morte Berlin (2009) and Bose Pacia, New York (2008 and 2009) as well as having solo shows at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai in 2008 and the Alexia Goethe Gallery, London in 2009.
Trained as a painter, Mithu Sen works in a wide variety of media, making site and time specific installations that often combine sculpture, video, sound, drawings, and even poetry. Although most of her oeuvre is on paper, her work is also often conceptual and interactive. Blending fact and fiction, Sen incorporates self- portraits along with her fantastical creations. Swinging between distance and intimacy, her works deal with the politics of identity, sexuality and gender. Born in 1971 near Calcutta, Mithu Sen earned her BFA and MFA degrees in painting at the Santiniketan University in West Bengal and later studied in Glasgow as well. She has had residencies in New York, Brazil, China, Austria, Kenya, Japan and South Africa and solo exhibitions of her works have been held at Nature Morte and the British Council in New Delhi, Gallery Chemould in Mumbai, Bose Pacia in New York, Krinzinger Projekte in Vienna, Galerie Steph in Singapore, Espace Louis Vuitton in Taipei, and Suzie Q Projects in Zurich. She lives and works in New Delhi.
Seher Shah’s work navigates the many permutations of personal and historical collective spatial memory through powerful graphic constructions. Trained as an architect, she starts with her own detailed drawings and then combines fragments of these with found imagery, both diagrammatic and photographic. Shah’s black and white prints explore the dimensions and incarnations of various iconographies: architectural, historical, personal and political. Through her thoughtful and innovative draftsmanship and compositional style she presents the viewer with dynamic landscapes of imagined recollections and possible scenarios for the future. Born in 1975 in Karachi, Pakistan, Seher Shah grew up in Belgium, the U.K. and New York City. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1988. In the past few years her work has appeared in a number of international exhibitions including Generation 1.5 at the Queens Museum of Art in New York; 21: Twenty-First Century Artists at The Brooklyn Museum; The Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; and On Rage at the House of World Cultures in Berlin. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and recent solo shows have been held at Nature Morte in New Delhi and Scaramouche in New York.
Influenced by German Expressionism and Sixties’ Psychedelia, Schandra Singh’s subjective portraits interroga- te the psychological and subsequently political implications of leisure in an era of global crisis. Confrontatio- nal and aggressive, bordering on the grotesque and profusely detailed, Singh’s subjects are both victims and perpetrators of a visual culture gone mad. She updates the painterly languages of both Soutine and Baselitz to talk about our fecund morbidity and our insatiable quest for beauty. Born in Suffern, New York in 1977, Schandra Singh currently lives in Poughkeepsie, north of New York City. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1999 and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Yale University in 2006. Her works were included in the exhibition The Empire Strikes Back at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2009 and a solo show was held at Nature Morte in Berlin in 2010.